Can your tongue be in the wrong spot? Seems like a strange question, but the answer may actually be even stranger: yes!
It’s true. Your tongue position could be wrong — and you may not even know it.
Where Should the Tongue Rest?
The tongue is attached to the floor of the mouth by the genioglossus muscle, which pulls the tongue forward. The tip of the tongue rests on top of two small bones that are shaped like an upside-down V (called the hyoid bone).
Your tongue should rest just behind these bones, with its base resting against the bottom of the palate. This position allows for easy breathing while you talk or eat. If your tongue is too far back, it can block airflow and cause problems with swallowing.
When the tongue is positioned correctly, it should sit flat against the floor of the mouth, just below the upper teeth. The lower jaw should also be slightly open so that it doesn’t press down on the tongue. This will also allow for easier breathing.
Does Tongue Placement Really Matter?
Yes, as we mentioned above, if your tongue is in the wrong spot, it can affect your breathing and how you swallow. There are other consequences of poor tongue placement, such as:
- Difficulty speaking clearly
- Problems chewing food properly
- Swallowing difficulties
- Painful sore throats
- Bad breath
- Dry mouth
- Sore throat
- Neck pain
- Speech disorders
- Impaired jaw growth
- Narrow palate
- Problems with facial growth
Improper Tongue Positioning and Facial Growth Problems
If the tongue’s posture is incorrect, it can negatively affect the growth of the jaw and palate and how the cheekbones develop. In fact, improper positioning of the tongue has been linked to several types of malformation, including cleft lip and palate, micrognathia, and mandibular prognathism (protrusion).
Improper tongue positioning can also impact your bite. When the tongue is out of place, it can push the lower jaw forward, causing crowding of teeth and misalignment of the jaws. This can lead to crooked teeth, crowded teeth and malocclusion.
How Does Improper Tongue Position Affect Breathing?
There are many ways improper tongue position affects your ability to breathe through your nose. For example, when the tongue is too high up in the mouth, it can restrict airflow from the nasal passages. As a result, you might have trouble breathing through your nose.
An improperly placed tongue can also cause problems with the way you swallow. Some people who have a “high-tongued” speech pattern tend to swallow their saliva instead of using it to lubricate their vocal cords during talking. This causes them to speak more loudly than they normally would.
Causes of Poor Tongue Positioning
Poor tongue positioning can be caused by:
Tongue Tie. This is a condition in which the tongue is tied to the soft tissues of the neck. This is usually due to overuse of the muscles that control the tongue.
Neck Muscle Weakness. Another common cause of tongue-tie is weak neck muscles. These muscles are responsible for keeping the head upright and stable. They help support the tongue and keep it in the correct position.
Injury. An injury to the tongue may make it difficult to move the tongue into the right position. This includes injuries sustained during birth or accidents.
Dental Conditions. If your teeth are crowded, there could be an interference between the tongue and the teeth. Crowded teeth can interfere with proper tongue positioning.
Are you seeing the signs of poor tongue posture? Check out the Big 3 for more information and call us for an examination.
Poor Tongue Posture and Sleep Apnea
If your resting tongue posture is incorrect, your tongue can fall back and block your airway, causing a condition known as obstructive sleep apnea. In this case, your tongue falls into the back of your throat, blocking your airway during sleep. When you wake up, you have no way of clearing out your blocked airway. You may experience snoring, excessive daytime drowsiness and fatigue.
Sleep apnea can also cause significant complications, including:
- Heart disease
- High blood pressure
- Increased risk of cancer
Tongue Posture and Gum Disease
If your tongue is too high in your mouth, it can rub against your gums and damage them. This can lead to gum disease, tooth decay and bad breath.
How to Tell if Your Tongue Is in the Wrong Spot
If you have any of these symptoms, it might mean that your tongue isn’t where it should be:
- Difficulty chewing food
- Swallowing becomes difficult
- You feel as though there is something stuck in your throat
- You have trouble speaking clearly
- You’re constantly clearing your throat
- You cough frequently
- You experience pain or discomfort in your neck, face, ears, shoulders or chest
Are you or your child showing the signs of poor tongue placement? Call us now.